It was no secret that Maclaine and Winger could barely contain a mutual antipathy on set. Yet they strike sparks off each other on screen. When comedy turns to tragedy with the development of Emma's cancer, the laughs continue even while the tear ducts are being given a good work out. In the glory days of Hollywood, this would have been acknowledged a great "women's picture" and its weepy credentials are impeccable. It stands out as a warm, accessible work that admirably rejects sugary sentiment in favour of the realistic rough edges that characterise most human relationships.
On the DVD: Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, this DVD is ideal for home cinema viewing. The picture and sound quality are fine, benefiting Michael Gore's gentle, memorable music and bringing the best out of Andrzej Bartkowiak's luminous photography. In addition to the original theatrical trailer, the major extra is the director's commentary in which James L Brooks reminisces with coproducer Penney Finkelman and production designer Polly Platt. They look back at their impressive work with a touching degree of wonder and apprentice directors should take note when Brooks recalls his steep learning curve in managing his leading ladies. --Piers Ford
Commentary Subtitles: English, German
No doubt written off by many as nothing more than a 'chick flick', this fascinating tale of the complex love/hate mother/daughter relationship is so beautifully written and performed, that it has to be regarded as a classic.
I watched this film with my eldest son back in 1996. He was 23 at the time, and in the Royal Navy. A true hard-hitting, roughie-toughie, seen-it-all hardnut (or so he thought). The real acting for us came during the scene where Teddy (Huckleberry Fox) visits his mother in hospital. Just as the tears rolled down young Huckleberry's face, so they were running down mine. My big, strong, you-can't-touch-me son, meanwhile, was busy clearing the lump in his throat and struggling very hard not to let me see his own tears.
That's when you know you're watching a very special piece of magic.
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